Study finds many young prostitutes are recruited by women
A new study on sex trafficking shows an alarming new trend. The Ohio Human Trafficking Commission finds more than one-third of the 328 sex trafficking victims who took part in the study said they first became involved as minors. What's more surprising, most were recruited into the trade by women.
"I think a lot of it is the appeal of women. They're nurturing, they're not seen as a threat, and they're seen as someone they can trust," Crossroads Crisis Center Administrative Assistant Deb Paulus, said.
Since many sex trade victims start young the study encourages more of a focus on early intervention. That means teaching first responders, teachers, and counselors how to recognize the warning signs before girls drop out of school. Those most at risk of getting into the trade are runaways, victims of sexual abuse, and followers.
"They're going to tend to just go with the flow more and fall under the pressure and fall under the wing of a woman who is maybe more assertive," Paulus said.
The study credits the state for the new Safe Harbor Law which went into effect in June which toughened penalties on traffickers. It also allows victims to erase their criminal charges.
"They are being charged with crimes that yes, they are crimes, but it's out of survival and when you look at it that way you are re-victimizing them by prosecuting them," Paulus said.
Victims said their customers came from all walks of life. Law enforcement was the number one response followed by businessmen, drug dealers, lawyers, truckers, athletes, and politicians.